By Tendai Rupapa
Prosecutor-General Mr Kumbirai Hodzi yesterday appeared in court following a court order compelling him to explain why he instructed the prosecution to halt the trial of a suspected fraudster who is facing over 20 counts involving over $100 000.
Regional magistrate Mr Morgan Nemadire summoned Mr Hodzi to appear before him after prosecutor Ms Sheila Mupindu on Wednesday made an application to stop the trial for three weeks, saying she was obeying an instruction from the PG.
The criminal case involves 29-year-old Leon Gomani, who allegedly swindled his employer of more than $100 000 using the names of prominent politicians. The trial is at the defence case stage.
Following the application for postponement, Mr Nemadire ordered the PG to avail himself in court and explain the legal basis of the postponement sought.
Addressing the court, the prosecution boss said he instructed the trial prosecutor to briefly stop the case after receiving a complaint linked to the case and therefore needed time to go through it.
He, however, did not disclose the nature of the complaint saying he was not at liberty to disclose it in an open court.
“I respect the Constitution of Zimbabwe and I was informed that the court wanted to have the PG in court and I have availed myself,” he said.
“Your Worship, there is nothing amiss with the instruction which I gave. I gave instructions to have the matter postponed as I am in charge of all prosecution in the country.
“It is my duty to protect the integrity of criminal prosecutions and when I feel that integrity might be compromised, I intervene.
“I could not ignore the nature of complaints raised in this case and that was the reason why I requested to have the matter stood down briefly so that I could go through the case.”
Mr Hodzi then suggested that they go to the magistrate’s chambers so that he explains the nature of the complaint.
“Your Worship may we engage in your chambers so that I fully inform the court and furnish all the necessary documents of the complaint,” said Mr Hodzi.
Mr Nemadire in response expressed his displeasure at the manner in which Mr Hodzi gave instructions to his officer over the phone to stop a trial already at the defence case.
“Is that how you handle complaints, especially in matters at the defence case. I don’t expect you to just call and say stop proceedings. You cannot just instruct the court to stop trial proceedings,” the magistrate said.
Mr Hodzi said he was not permanently stopping the proceedings explaining that he only needed time to finish investigations on the complainants raised.
After engaging in chambers, Mr Nemadire ruled that he had received a satisfactory explanation from Mr Hodzi.
He said there was no irregularities and gave the PG time up to today so that he communicates properly with his officers.
It is the State’s case that Gomani was employed by one Dr Gonga and his wife as a tax consultant.
The couple owns a surgery and an earth moving and construction company.
In swindling his employers, Gomani allegedly used names of former ministers Patrick Chinamasa and Saviour Kasukuwere as well as that of the acting secretary for Judicial Service Commission Mr Walter Chikwanha. The Herald